Expanding Child Life Services: Creating a child life position to work specifically with parents and siblings in a hospital setting
When a child is hospitalized due to illness or injury the entire family is affected. As a quality of family-centered care, Child Life specialist aim to promote positive coping and decreased anxiety in patients and their families. Unfortunately, due to lack of Child Life positions and funding, pediatric hospitals are not adequately staffed to provide services to all patients and families. Child Life specialists must prioritize the highest needs, often the patients being ranked above their family members. Newton, Wolgemuth, Galvin, & Wrightson (2010) researched Child Life services available to siblings of hospitalized patients in North America. Results indicated that only 48% of the participating hospitals regularly provided sibling support. This is despite the knowledge that a sibling’s reaction to a patient’s hospitalization is often internalized in the form of unexpressed feelings or manifested through actions and behaviors (Thompson, 2009). There is limited research on Child Life services available to caregivers however, research has found parents of hospitalized children are at increased risk of anxiety, depression, and decisional conflict (Robyn et al., 2017).
Participants will be able to identify, understand, and apply the principles of family-centered care
- An understanding of reported and observed feelings and behaviors of a patient's caregivers and siblings
- An understanding of why psychosocial support provided by a child life specialist are important for caregiver and sibling positive coping
- A model for programming events such as caregiver socials, caregiver support groups, sibling support groups, and family events
Megan Cassani MA, CCLS, CIMI, has been a certified Child Life Specialist at Ranken Jordan Pediatric Bridge Hospital since 2014. Megan graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in Human Development and Family Sciences. She has experience working in both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation with patients of all ages. Megan has worked to develop a family-centered care child life program promoting caregiver and sibling coping as well as family bonding and connectedness.